According to available data, 9 out of 10 people worldwide do not have access to basic surgical care in low- and middle-income countries. As a result, initiatives to improve access to high-quality surgical care are more important than ever.
The Malaysian Ministry of Health (MOH), the Malaysian Society of Anaesthesiologists (MSA), and Subang Jaya Medical Centre (SJMC) have joined forces for the Global Surgery Initiative (GSI), a first-of-its-kind Public-Private Partnership initiative for corporate social responsibility (CSR) that aims to provide access to safe and affordable surgical and anaesthesia care in Malaysia’s underserved areas.
The GSI, which was officially launched at SJMC in early February during the MSA’s 60th anniversary celebration, has identified specific areas of Malaysia that will receive assistance in surgical services and anaesthesia care, particularly in East Malaysia. Untreated surgical conditions have had a significant but largely unnoticed negative impact on human health, welfare, and economic development. The MSA President, Professor Dr. Ina Ismiarti Shariffuddin, praised the growing support for establishing safe and patient-centered anaesthesia in underserved areas.
The event was attended by Yg Bhg Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Dr Noor Hisham bin Abdullah, Director General of Health Malaysia, Professor Dr Ina Ismiarti Shariffudin, President of the MSA; Professor Dr Marzida Mansor, President of the College of Anaesthesiologists, Academy of Medicine Malaysia; Dr Ooi Choo Huck, Director of Sarawak State Health Department; Dr Gunalan Palari Arumugam, Chairman of the Medical Advisory Board, SJMC; Bryan Lin, CEO of SJMC; and Peter Hong, Group CEO, Ramsay Sime Darby Healthcare (RSDH).
GSI has been established throughout the country with the main focus of strengthening the provision of primary and essential surgical, obstetric, trauma and anaesthesia (SOTA) care at district hospitals, Yg Bhg Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Dr Noor Hisham bin Abdullah, said, adding that the implementation of the Global Surgery roadmap embracing Lean Management, the Cluster Hospital concept, the Mass Surgery Initiative and outsourcing management will further enhance access and equity of surgical services in Malaysia.
Bellwether operations such as emergency laparotomies, caesarean sections, and treatment of an open fracture are universally covered in Malaysia, however, there still exists inequity. In order to offer access to surgical and anaesthesia treatment in underserved parts of Malaysia, particularly in East Malaysia, the surgical and anaesthesiology services in MOH Malaysia have been leading the local Global Surgery agenda.
This Global Surgery framework has been gradually implemented since 2019 through collaborations with MOH district hospitals and their nearest lead specialist and training MOH hospital. This CSR project will be one of the first in the region in which private-sector surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, and other allied health care professionals will collaborate with the public health system to identify district hospitals with unmet surgical needs.
According to Dr Gunalan Palari Arumugam of SJMC, despite advancements in access to surgical care with the training of surgeons and anaesthesiologists over the years in Malaysia, under the GSI, five issues have been identified and must be addressed for equitable access to affordable and safe surgery – the patient factor, lack of facilities and human resource, lack of human resource in available facilities, tackling long queues with the available facilities and human resource.
Dr. Gunalan went on to say that strategies for addressing these issues had been developed and implemented on the ground, with improvements in access to safe surgical care seen in participating rural hospitals.
According to SJMC’s Bryan Lin, the initiative is important because it brings much-needed attention and effort to improve surgery and anaesthesia care in areas of our country where access to good surgical care is limited.
Through this CSR project, two outreach programmes are planned. The first outreach programme will coincide with the 1st Global Surgery Conference in Kuching, Sarawak in March 2023, followed by the second one in July 2023 prior to the MSA College of Anaesthesiologists Annual Scientific Congress, also in Kuching, Sarawak. The district hospitals, preferably with less than 100 beds and with minimum access to specialist-level care will be identified together with the Sarawak State Health Department.